It is of course quite unthinkable that Obama’s jobs speech tomorrow will actually recommend measures that will help improve the economic climate in the country, such as cancelling or putting on hold Obamacare, declaring a total moratorium on all new regulations, sending Dodd-Frank back to the drawing board, dropping the Justice Department suits against the banks, calling off the NLRB dogs, or opening up public lands for energy production so that more states can enjoy the economic fruits that are right now limited to just Texas and North Dakota where you can drill on private and state land.
But there’s one idea that ought to be within reach of even a rigid lefty ideologue like Obama: pro-growth tax reform. He’d put the GOP in a tough spot if he called for tearing up the tax code, starting over from scratch by eliminating deductions and credits and gimmicks and lowering rates. If he calls for Congress to consider this, I’ll take it as a sign that he’s serious about the jobs problem. Otherwise it will be just a purely political speech—his first campaign speech of the 2012 campaign, trying to channel Harry Truman against the GOP Congress in 1948. His own deficit commission, the Simpson-Bowles bunch, recommended several potential tax reforms along these lines, which Obama totally ignored. I’m guessing he is too much of a class warfare/corporate basher to embrace something this sensible. Plus the political class can’t resist keeping the tax code as their playground to reward friends.
There’s one obvious problem with trying to run against a “no-nothing” Congress as Truman did in 1948. The House is plenty active, passing lots of measures (including even a budget!). The “do-nothing” house of Congress is the Senate, which is controlled by his party. Oops.